Radio AC: Reactions to Osama’s killing (AOD)
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Radio AC: Reactions to Osama’s killing (AOD)

I was on TBS radio’s Prime Time last Tuesday evening, Korea time, to talk about the consequences of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

They have the AOD file up.


Death of Osama bin Laden announced on Korean TV

Among some of the points discussed are:

On the lack of evidence released about Osama’s death:  The government is likely still compiling those materials, along with video of the attack on bin Laden’s compound, and deciding how much of it to release.  Delaying the release may also be a bit of political jujitsu. By delaying the release of the photos and videos, it invites those who do not believe Osama is really dead to focus on the lack of evidence. That position will be undercut once the evidence is produced. (UPDATE:  Al Qaeda’s admission that Osama is dead since then lessens the chance that the evidence will be released).

Torture and its malcontents:  There are reports that an important string of evidence that eventually led to Osama bin Laden started with information gained from the torture of al- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a CIA prison in Eastern Europe and other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Those so-called harsh interrogation techniques were ended during the Bush administration and not revived during the Obama administration.  Despite the apparent importance of information gained through those methods, they are unlikely to be used again in a systematic way.

The impact of Osama’s death:  Bin Laden’s death will have a long-term impact in that it will help lessen the fund-raising prowess of al-Qaeda.  There will never be a shortage of poor kids willing to martyr themselves.  However, pulling off major terrorist attacks requires a lot of money for training, materials, travel and safe houses.  Bin Laden’s name was a draw card for potential donors to terrorist operations and his death will lessen the ability for al-Qaeda to pull off major operations.

Threats against Koreans after Osama’s death:  The roughly 450 Koreans in Afghanistan may be vulnerable to a retaliatory attack, but most are deployed in the north, outside of the Taliban’s main area of operations.  President Lee Myung-bak has already promised to keep the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan.  The government also fears that Koreans abroad, especially in the Middle East, may get caught up in some increased terrorists attacks.  Korea itself is less vulnerable than South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA.  Korea has a relatively small pool of Muslim workers that terrorist groups can recruit from.  Also, the vast majority of those are in Korea for a short time, which makes it more difficult to develop a network of safe houses and training centers that terrorist groups need.